The Jewish Arts and Culture Renaissance is Flowering!

Gordon Haber

One of the most gratifying aspects of editing the CANVAS Compendium is when I get to impart what grantees have been up to. Despite all that’s going on in the world—or perhaps in part due to it—something wonderful is brewing in the world of Jewish arts and culture. The renaissance that inspired a small but growing cohort of visionary funders to start CANVAS is flowering. 

Here is a mere sampling of the great stuff CANVAS grantees have been doing and what’s coming in 2023. 

As ever, we welcome your questions and comments.

CANVAS Network Grantees

With its able new leadership, Alliance for Jewish Theatre is doing great things. First, their monthly podcast On the Bimah just dropped, with Danielle Levsky hosting a fascinating conversation with theatremakers Moisés Kaufman and Amanda Gronich. 

And if you’re in the D.C. area, AJT is hosting an in-person gathering at Theatre J with networking, lunch, conversation, and a performance. It’s Sunday March 12 at 10:30am. Get details and tickets here.

The international Jewish artists’ network Asylum Arts—now integrated into The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life—awarded 29 grants last year to support stints at The Peleh Residency for artists and their families, for Peleh fellows to continue their projects, and for new projects for artists in the Asylum network.

In October, Asylum partnered with Artport in Tel Aviv for the 7th Artist Career Development Program, a 3-day intensive retreat for 24 emerging Israeli visual artists—including Palestinian, Druze, and Haredi artists—to build community and advance their careers.

Meanwhile, The Neighborhood’s programming continues with a Tu B’Shevat celebration in partnership with PJ Library at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum on February 5th. Info here.

CAJM logo

The Council of American Jewish Museums will announce its new Strategic Framework in a few weeks. In the meantime, CAJM continues its great work of connecting Jewish museums and museum professionals. They’re especially interested in supporting emerging professionals. To learn more, click here.

Jewish Art Salon is a vibrant organization that always seems to have something cooking. On February 12th, JAS members will gather at Manhattan’s Stanton Street Shul to network and view their own Together Again exhibition. And at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., the JAS exhibit, Jewish Artists Encounter Samaritan Culture is up until April 12th, 2023.


It’s been a banner season for Jewish Book Council. Recently they announced the winners of the 72nd Jewish Book Awards, and the highly recommended celebration is March 1st in New York City. Details here.
If you haven’t picked up a copy of their annual journal Paper Brigade, you’re missing a stellar issue packed with inter­views, essays, poems and stories on the Jewish experience. Finally, JBC has extended the deadline of its prestigious fiction contest. Submit here.

Another big moment for Jewish arts and culture: Jewish Plays Project announced the six finalists for the 2023 Jewish Playwriting Contest, the 12th annual competition celebrating the best in contemporary Jewish playwriting, with the hopes of seeing these plays find world premier productions. Learn more about the plays and playwrights here.

The Jewish Studio Project is rapidly growing. JSP Facilitator-led programs—which use Jewish texts as a launchpad for creativity and healing—are popping up in Jewish communities all over the U.S., and the second Creative Facilitator Training cohort finishes their 2-year training this spring.
JSP is also launching two new Leader Studios programs to ignite purpose and passion in Jewish leaders. The Clergy Studio, launching in February, received support from the Rodan Foundation, the Rose Community Foundation, and CJP Boston. The Educator Studio, launching this summer with support from a Covenant Signature Grant, will recruit from West Coast communities. 

Kultura Collective is a Toronto-based network is helping to strengthen ties between Jewish arts and culture organizations while creating opportunities for cultural enrichment and spiritual fulfillment. A few current examples:
The Toronto Jewish Film Foundation is showing First to Stand: The Cases and Causes of Irwin Cotler, a documentary on this fearless human rights activist, in-person and online February 5th to 7th. Tickets here.
Miles Nadal JCC is presenting Yiddish Voices of Kensington, a Zoom lecture on Toronto’s early twentieth century Yiddish-speaking immigrants on February 16th. Get the link here.

And the Koffler Centre of the Arts is showing SIREN, nicola feldman-kiss’s brilliant and challenging multidisciplinary exhibition on global migration, until March 5, 2023. Details here.

This international Jewish arts and culture network uses the study of classic Jewish texts to inspire new art, culture, conversation, and community. After its auspicious beginnings at the 14th Street Y in New York City, LABA now has additional hubs in the Bay Area, Bueno Aires, and Berlin.

All the hubs will be investigating a juicy theme this year: taboo. LABA NY just announced its fellows for this year’s cohort: meet them here (click the “fellows” tab). Learn about LABA BAY’s 2023 fellows here.

Also, we’re delighted to share LABA Berlin has won a prestigious Power of the Arts Award—€50,000 to use “culture to promote an open society.”

This energetic network of Jewish artists is connected with Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim, and the creativity of The New Jewish Culture Fellowship is also felt farther afield.

On March 16th, 2023, the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) will open Material/Inheritance: Contemporary Work by New Jewish Culture Fellows. The exhibition will feature new media, painting, poetry, food, sculpture, and more—all works created in dialogue with Jewish history, practices, and texts. Info on the exhibition is forthcoming on JMM’s website.

Both the JMM and the NJCF were recently cited in an Artforum article, States of Mind: Toward an Alternative Future for Jewish Art.

This network of preeminent creators, artists, entrepreneurs, and activists continues to produce experiences that evolve the Jewish conversation and transform society. Most recently Reboot is offering an entertaining new podcast, The Jewish Bizarre. The podcast digs into the stranger corners of Jewish history—bloody murders, rioting mothers, anarchist parties and pseudoscience. Its lively hosts: Eddy Portnoy of YIVO, Tony Michels of UW Madison, and comedian Jessica Chaffin. Listen here.

As an innovative incubator and advocate for Jewish music, Rising Song Institute has been strengthening connections between musicians while supporting their work. The extended Rising Song Artist Network—dozens of fellowship recipients and residency alumni—recently met online together for the first time to envision a supportive community of Jewish music professionals.
And on February 22nd, Rising Song Records will release Kapelya by RAZA רזא—the first full-length album of women singing traditional Hasidic melodies. Led by Chana Raskin, who grew up in the Lubavitch community, Kapelya takes sacred Jewish melodies in a new light. Listen to selections and pre-order the album here.

The Workshop is North America’s first arts fellowship centering the art and culture of JOCISM—Jews of Color, Jewish-Indigenous, Sephardi, and Mizrahi.  Last November, The Workshop presented its fall Artist Salon of works-in-progress to an enthusiastic audience at Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. And in January, The Workshop launched its second year-long cohort of talented fellows. Learn about the new cohort and their work here.

CANVAS Media Grantees

Hey Alma continues to cover Jewish arts and culture with energy and chutzpah. Check out this piece on “asthmatic gay diabetic Jew” Sam Morrison and his Off-Broadway show, Sugar Daddy. And this piece on the up-and-coming Australian Jewish filmmaker Madeleine Gottleib. Also this interview with B.A. Van Sise, whose latest book, Invited to Life, captures “the vibrant present of Holocaust survivors.”

Executive Editor Adam Langer has created a new podast, Playing Anne Frank. This seven-part series examines the cultural history of one of America’s most iconic and impactful works. It asks big questions about how producing and performing in the original 1955 Broadway production of The Diary of Anne Frank, the Oscar-winning 1959 film, as well as various touring companies, shaped those involved in it. 

HyperAllergic is a leading voice in contemporary perspectives on art and culture. Their writers continue to provide interesting and informative coverage of Jewish artists, such as this thoughtful review of Alex Katz’s show at the Guggenheim, and this piece on imaginative contemporary versions of the menorah.

One final bit of required reading for artists and funders: a fascinating look at how the supply chain crises has affected artists.

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